CMS to Release Physician Payment Data

CMS has announced it will give the public unprecedented access to Medicare physician payment data.

DoctorNo earlier than April 9, the agency will release data concerning the number and type of healthcare services provided by individual physicians and how much Medicare paid them in 2012, according to a blog post by CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum. The data includes information on more than 880,000 healthcare professionals across the country who received a total of $77 billion in Medicare Part B fee-for-service payments in 2012. Mr. Blum called the development "another major step forward in making our healthcare system more transparent and accountable."

"Data like these can shine a light on how care is delivered in the Medicare program," he wrote. "They can help consumers compare the services provided and payments received by individual healthcare providers. Businesses and consumers alike can use these data to drive decision-making and reward quality, cost-effective care."

The announcement builds on CMS' decision earlier this year to evaluate the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests on a case-by-case basis for individual Medicare payments made to physicians, effective this past March. Previously, HHS said that "considering the two competing interests of public transparency and privacy," Medicare physician data could not be provided through FOIA requests. The decision to disclose the data was spurred by a federal judge's decision last year to lift a 1979 injunction that barred the release of individual physicians' annual Medicare payments. That court decision stems from a January 2011 request from Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Last year, HHS and CMS also released hospital charge data about the 100 most common inpatient services and the 30 most common outpatient services.

More Articles on Healthcare Cost Transparency:
7 Predictions on Medicare's Release of Physician Payment Data
CMS Extends Transparency Movement to Physician Payment
Unveiling the Cost of Care: How Transparency Changes the Patient Perspective 

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